"Art is Not a Mirror, It is a Hammer." - Berthold Brecht
2007 oil on canvas 72" x 48"
Bertold Brecht stated this phrase and it completely matches his view of theater of politics and change. Jasper Johns said that, "art is a complaint." Marcel Duchamp said all art is conceptual and R. Mutt, the fountain (urinal), and the Blind Man (journal) agreed. Even Pierre Pinoncelli has had a whack at what art is - oh, such an ingenious performance one can only tremble to revel in the originality of the "in" joke. Obviously and obliviously, there are many thoughts on what art is or what it should be. Who's to complain? Johns and Pinoncelli for starters. And one can only hope that Pinancelli won't have a whack at Johns to go with his whack at the urinal. Perhaps the Tate would have to put Johns in a transparent box so he could be protected. And, they could even commission Damien Hirsch to phlormeldahyde the whole thing. What would R. Mutt think of that? But, Damien had to replace the shark after a few years because it was decomposing. Could he guarantee his work would be more than a passing fancy and failed science experiment?
I am exploring art through paintings even though some have said that oil paintings are irrelevant to contemporary art today. In this painting, I literally and deliberately take a hammer to the pop art icon of the tomato can. Once, when I began working at a marketing company as a Creative Director, I discovered that much of the work was "cookie cutter." I felt strongly that each element of creative needed to be original, excellent and compelling. In a team meeting where we were forging a new direction for the agency, I played Aretha Franklin's song, "RESPECT" and after discussing the need for great creative, I smashed a cookie cutter with a sledge hammer. My art must be more than a mere representation of commercial brands. I want to explore line, form, composition, color, movement, symbol, story, action/reaction, gesture and experience that is unique. When I want a box of Brillo, I'll buy it at a store. So, in this work, the hammer comes down on pop art tomato soup can and the idea of the art as just a mirror.